Is Hans Backe Right to Block Ryan Meara's International Ambition?

Ryan KellyContributor IMay 3, 2012

NYRB Coach Hans Backe
NYRB Coach Hans BackeAndy Marlin/Getty Images

Some days ago, Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Noel King revealed that 21-year-old New York Red Bulls custodian Ryan Meara was in his plans, but a battle between "club and country" has arisen.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, King remarked that his scouting team had been following the progress of the goalkeeper and were suitably impressed, noting that he was "a big lad with good hands and he's a strong kicker."

King then revealed that he intended to invite Meara to Ireland for his squad's upcoming games against Denmark and Italy, so that he could properly assess the player.

However, the news was not long broken before Red Bulls' Swedish coach, Hans Backe, issued a frank summary of his thoughts on the situation.

In what might be construed as a brusque musing, Backe dismissed the notion that his current number one might travel to Europe to play in high-level international competition, saying that he would not give the go-ahead. "It's stupid," said Backe, "I'm not commenting on it."

Meara, who qualifies for the Republic of Ireland through his grandparents, seemed dejected by the development but conceded to the wishes of his coach, suggesting that the Swede's greater experience in the game demanded that he conform.

Although it may be true that the sexagenarian Backe holds much more experience than the rookie Meara, it is also true that the career of a professional footballer can be painfully short.

International honours do not roll round to just any player and in the process of blocking Meara's potential appearance for the Republic of Ireland under 21s, Backe may just have removed the only chance that Meara might have of featuring in top-level international competition.

It goes without saying that competitive international football has also provided a platform for many players to progress in the game.

Indeed current Ireland internationals, Darren O'Dea and Paul Green, may find themselves out of contract come summertime, but they appear confident that being a part of the Irish contingent travelling to the European Championships will yield positive results in the form of contract offers.

With that in mind perhaps Meara or his representatives should have been a bit more assertive, in the interests of the player and his career, and demanded that he be allowed to seize this rare opportunity.